It’s only been a few weeks but I feel like I have a lot to write about—so here’s blog #4 from an airplane someplace between Pittsburgh and St. Louis.
Home Weekend: We had two home games last weekend in conference against Case Western and Emory. The UAA is a very different conference than any other in the country because of the geography involved. We play Friday nights and Sunday mornings every weekend–this leads to very different game atmospheres for the two games. Last Friday night we tipped-off at 8 p.m. in front of 1,500 or so Wash U faithful— including about 1,000 students. Sunday morning against Emory, in the same gym, there were maybe 100 people in the stands at 11 a.m. for tip-off–probably four hundred more got there by half time.
It isn’t hard to get fired up to play in front of a crowd like Friday’s—unfortunately Case Western was a little more fired up than we expected. They shot the heck out of the ball in the first half, but we weathered the storm and pulled ahead with great defense in the second half.
Sunday we got off to a great start against Emory and never looked back. Coach Edwards says “UAA championships are won on Sundays” and I really agree with him. The teams that can be ready to play at a.m. and focused on the task at hand win those games.
Taking the road: This past weekend started our rough stretch of four-straight road games. Starting Thursday we were going to be spending six of 10 nights in hotels in Rochester, Pittsburgh, Boston & New York City. Seriously–that’s like an NBA schedule. Playing in the UAA we take for granted the amazing opportunity of being able to pick up and leave school to travel to some the greatest cities in the country—but when you’re on the road like this it gets tough between missing four days of class and not sleeping in your own bed.
The Rochester/Carnegie Mellon trip has not been good to us since I’ve been here. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of two Final Four teams and another team that JUST missed the tournament—and those teams were a combined 1-5 on this trip, never winning at Rochester. Last year’s national championship team got smacked by CMU, on a Sunday, by 30+ points, so this was a big trip for us since they (UR & CMU) were both 2-1 in conference going into the weekend– with us at 3-0.
On Thursday, we met at our gym at 4:15 a.m. for our travel day from hell—a 6 a.m. flight from St. Louis to Baltimore…another flight Baltimore to Buffalo…and a two hour bus ride from Buffalo to Rochester. Somehow we got enough rest Thursday after our practice for our Friday night game (8:30 pm to 9:30 am sleeping—not bad!). We took advantage of an undermanned Rochester team and never took our foot off the gas—not too many teams win at the Palestra, so even if they were missing the conference’s leading scorer it was still a good win. We took an early bus ride Saturday morning from Rochester to Pittsburgh for a practice at CMU to prepare for our game this morning.
The game today was a big-time battle. Both teams traded punches in the first half and got into some foul trouble. They hit some shots—then we hit some shots and had a seven-point halftime lead. They then cut it to three points early in the second half—but over a two-minute span, we went on a 17-0 (yes, that’s right 17-0!!!) run to put the game to 20. That run was the most fun I’ve had playing basketball in a long, long time. Our defense was clicking, leading to turnovers, leading to fast-breaks, leading to wide open lay-ups and threes–it was just awesome. That run was all we needed and we held on for the win.
Rootin’ for the Women: Another cool thing about the UAA is how close we get with the women’s team. We travel together every weekend, watch every one of their games and go to dinners together on the road. So, just because we beat Rochester on Friday we were all bummed and kinda quiet on the bus to Pittsburgh Saturday a.m. since they lost a tough one that they almost had the night before–we call that a “sad” bus. But, since we both won on Sunday (and UR women lost to Chicago) we’re both now either in or tied for first place in the conference–so now I’m flying on “happy” plane with lots of laughter and–dare I say–flirting.
– Congrats to Coach Edwards who was honored at the Baseball writers of Missouri’s banquet last week – you can see him in the background of this picture with some guy named Albert Pujols.
– Congrats to my roomie and best bud Tyler Nading on setting the all-time fouls record at Wash U… we’re all so proud of you!
– Before our Emory game I asked the refs about the trivia question I had last blog–and they were 1,000% sure that once the ball hits the ground it is NO LONGER a FG attempt and wouldn’t count if it were after the buzzer—and that it would be a two if time wasn’t an issue.
–On a personal note–it meant a lot to me that EVERY single guy on the Varsity team came to our team’s JV game on Monday night. When we were freshmen, Tyler and I would be the ONLY one’s that played in the Varsity game (aside from the coaches) to go watch our teammates since it is traditionally on a Varsity day off. It really shows how tight this team is, how the program has evolved and changed in my four years, and how every player on this roster is pulling for everyone else.
–HUGE game for us on Friday night @ Brandeis (4-1 in conference). If we can get a W, everyone else in the UAA will have at least two losses, putting us in good shape since five of our last seven are at home. We want to do damage again in March, but we are hungry for a UAA championship since we didn’t get one last year!